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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


Dodgers 6, Cardinals 0: We got guys working overtime right now to come up with new adjectives for Clayton Kershaw, because we’ve burnt the hell through our entire 2014 supply already. The best pitcher in baseball struck out 13 Cardinals in seven shutout innings today, reducing his ERA to 2.04 and pushing his K/BB ratio to 107/11 in 79.1 innings. He’s currently rolling with a 28-inning scoreless streak. Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer, but man, it’s not like Kershaw even needed the help.

Mariners 3, Indians 0: Kershaw isn’t the only ace challenging our ability to describe his greatness this year. Felix Hernandez has always been amazing, but he’s on a whole new level in 2014. For one thing, having ten wins at the halfway point of a season is something different for him. The earliest he’s ever notched his 10th win was in 2009 when he did it on July 17. That year he won 19. This year he’s 10-2 with a 2.10 ERA with a K/BB ratio of 137/22 in 128.1 innings. That after the eight innings of one-hit ball he threw while striking out nine Indians today.

Reds 4, Giants 0: Homer Bailey isn’t quite the pitcher Kershaw and Hernandez are, but he’s pretty damn good. Yesterday he took a no-hitter into the seventh and finished with a three-hit shutout of the reeling San Francisco Giants. The reeling San Francisco Giants who now find themselves in a mathematical tie with the Dodgers in the NL West, one game better in the loss column, but spinning out of control all the same. They’ve dropped six of seven.

Rockies 10, Brewers 4: Last Sunday the Rockies were a laughing stock after a weekend in which they threw the ball all over the place and literally fell down on the basepaths. On this Sunday they were the beneficiaries of the other team playing less-than-Little-League-quality defense to let the Rockies stroll around the bases unmolested. Not that they were perfect: Jorge De La Rosa threw three wild pitches and hit a batter. He still got the win, though. It was the Rockies first win against the Brewers all season. It was also their last game against the Brewers all season.

Twins 3, Rangers 2: Kendrys Morales hit an RBI double to break a 2-2- tie in the ninth. They shifted right against the lefty Morales, and the lefty Morales slapped it down the left field line. Between having to run a long way to get back to that shift-beating ball, it took a weird bounce off the wall too, allowing the go-ahead and ultimately winning run score.

Pirates 5, Mets 2: Former Met Ike Davis hit a two-run single in the first off Bartolo Colon and the Pirates took a 5-0 lead after four. Pedro Alvarez had a home and an RBI double. Colon had one idea about why the Pirates were able to get to him:

“I just think that because I’ve already gone against them once they probably prepared so they knew what I was coming with. They just had the time to prepare to play against me.”

Bartolo, you’ve been pitching in the bigs since the Clinton Administration. Everyone has had a chance to see you.

Astros 6, Tigers 4: Jose Altuve is on fire. Three hits and two stolen bases today and he went 9 for 14 in the series against Detroit. He’s stolen two bases in four straight games and 10 overall in his last six. He’s batting .347 on the year.

Braves 3, Phillies 2: A four game sweep. And, for some reason, none of the Philly people who tweeted smack at me when the Phillies took three in a row from the Braves a couple of weeks ago tweeted at me during this series. Huh. This was the first four-game sweep in Philadelphia by the Braves since Sept. 24-27, 1964. That was at the tail end of that historic collapse by Philly that season. Which, hey, that may be bad, but at least they had some success from which to collapse then.

Royals 5, Angels 4: Lorenzo Cain had four hits, including three doubles, and drove in two. Omar Infante drove in the winning run in the ninth, but this game shoulda gone extras. Before Infante’s big hit Erik Aybar and Howie Kendrick muffed what should’ve been an inning-ending double play, allowing the guy who scored the winning run to move into scoring position. “You can’t assume the double—OW!”  Sorry, had to smack that cliche-spewing voice in my head across the back of the neck.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Athletics 4, Marlins 3: Nate Freiman was called up from Sacramento, flew across country, barely slept and then hit a three-run homer in his 2014 debut. Not bad. Also not bad: The A’s winning all three games in Miami by coming from behind.  Four wins in a row overall. Oakland is at its exact halfway point of the 2014 season and has 51 wins.

Rays 12, Orioles 7: Two homers for Matt Joyce, who had five hits and four RBI in all. The Rays had five homers and six doubles in this one. That’s, like, a month’s output for that offense.

White Sox 4, Blue Jays 0: Jose Quintana had seven shutout innings. That creep can roll, man. Jose Abreu had an RBI single to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

Padres 2, Diamondbacks 1:  Odrisamer Despaigne with his second start and, once again, a stingy performance and a win. It’s junk and funk and angles and smoke and mirrors, but who cares? All of those things are really cool.

Red Sox 8, Yankees 5: Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz each drove in three, Ortiz on the power of his 450th career home run. The Red Sox take two of three from their rivals, who themselves have lost six of eight.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza
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Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the best compliment I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my view — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play-by-play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.